This article was written by blackrain79.com contributor Fran Ferlan.
One of the biggest advantages of online poker is the ability to play multiple
tables at once, or multi-table. This allows you to play way more hands you
could at a live brick-and-mortar casino.
By putting in more volume in a shorter time span, you can weather the negative
variance faster and get to the long run sooner, which is the only way to truly
assess your poker skills.
Also, due to the lightning fast action of online poker, the game is far more
dynamic, and you don’t need to wait around for a decent hand for hours on end.
The benefits of multitabling are well-known and make online poker appealing to
serious grinders, but there are some drawbacks that often get overlooked.
This article is not about bashing multitabling, or discouraging you from doing
it. It’s about offering a perspective on potential downsides and avoiding
certain bad habits related to multi-tabling.
Here are 5 reasons you shouldn’t multi table online poker, or at least cut
down the number of tables in your next session.
1. Less Time for Quality Poker Table Selection
The more tables you play, the less time you have to pay attention to
table and seat selection. This can impact your winrate dramatically.
Most money you win from poker won’t come from your superior skills, but from
the mistakes of your opponents.
Poker is mostly about capitalizing on those mistakes, while making sure you
curb your mistakes to a minimum.
If you multitable heavily, chances of you making mistakes go up, while the
number of opportunities to catch mistakes of your opponents go down.
Also, due to the fast nature of online poker, some tables can quickly become
The higher stakes you play, the less recreational players, so it becomes an
imperative to keep actively looking for them and getting to their left to be
in the best position to take their money.
If you play too many tables, you might oversee a huge whale sitting down with
a free seat next to him, or you can get so wrapped up in playing you don’t
realize that you’re seated with five hyper-aggressive regulars and you can’t
win a hand to save your life.
Table and seat selection is one of the biggest advantages of online poker as
opposed to brick-and-mortar casinos, so disregarding it can be absolutely
detrimental to your winrate.
If you’re used to just firing up 12 tables without taking into consideration
what kind of opposition you’re likely to face on each of them, you’re doing a
huge disservice to your winrate.
2. Less Time to Make Informed Poker Decisions
Poker is a game of incomplete information. Usually, the player with an
informational advantage is the one that comes out on top.
The elite poker players take in nearly every bit of information, no matter how
minuscule, to get the full picture, and make the best decision possible in any
If you’ve been playing poker for a while, you’re likely taking in a lot of
information without even realizing it consciously. After a while, it becomes
That’s why you’re able to play multiple tables at once and stay on top of your
These tiny bits might seem irrelevant, but the more advanced your knowledge in
certain field, the more details get important.
Not all players will have glaringly obvious leaks in their game, and general
assumptions about their play style and skill level aren’t always going to cut
You need to dive a bit deeper, especially once you start encountering tougher
Details like narrowing down your opponent’s range, paying attention to betting
patterns, even the metagame, are often glossed over when you’re
There simply isn’t enough time to pay attention to every single detail, so our
brain does what it does best: it conserves energy.
Actively thinking about every single aspect of the game is incredibly mentally
challenging, and our CPUs don’t have enough processing power.
So they go on autopilot, they focus and react to things that demand our
immediate attention, while ignoring the rest.
This isn’t a problem when you’re doing simple, repetitive tasks, but poker is
anything but. At least if you’re playing it right.
If you want to win consistently you need to be consistently applying the proven ways to win. And if you are playing too many tables this is going to be much more difficult for you.
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3. You Can’t Spot Online Poker Tilt While Multi-Tabling
One of the disadvantages of online poker is the inability to spot physical
tells from your opponents. This can work in your favour if you can’t keep a
poker face to save your life.
Either way, you need to rely on other non-physical tells to gather
information, such as betting patterns or timing tells, both of which is nearly
impossible to do if you’re multitabling heavily.
There’s also the inability to spot tilt in your opponents.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. If you can’t see your opponents, how the
hell could you infer if they’re smashing their keyboard and kicking their dog
over a screen?
But you can still figure out when someone starts making all kind of ludicrous
mistakes, especially when their session is not going well.
Recreational players are usually the easiest to get riled up, and you don’t
even need to do anything special to throw them off their game. They usually do
a pretty good job of doing it themselves.
All you have to do is be at the right place at the right time to take their
money. It’s not so uncommon to see someone shoving all-in literally any two
cards preflop until they deplete the last of their “bankroll”.
Regular players aren’t immune to tilt, either, but it won’t be as glaringly
obvious like with recreational players.
That’s why it’s important to pay attention to the metagame as well, i.e. the
mindset and the general dynamics at the table.
For example, someone who has suffered a few bad beats in a row is more likely
to be thrown off their game.
When you see such a situation, you should try to get involved with them more
and look for spots to keep applying the pressure.
This might sound a bit Machiavellian, but hey, poker is not a cooperative
endeavour. It’s all about taking advantage of opportunities that present
And it’s hard to take advantage of them if your attention is scattered all
over the place.
So if you want to keep pushing the envelope and maximize your winrate, you
have to be on the lookout for these situations.
4. Decision Fatigue: A Subtle Killer of Your Poker Results
Multitabling in online poker is intellectually challenging, and it takes a
toll on your mental resources.
After a prolonged period of decision making, the quality of your decisions
starts to deteriorate. In psychology, this is known as decision fatigue.
Think about how you’re likely to reach for the candy bar at the checkout lane
after a long trek through the supermarket, or one beer too many after a rough
day at the office.
The theory states that the more decisions you make, the more likely you are to
make irrational trade-offs later, or simply avoid making tough decisions
Think about the following scenario: you sit down to play poker and you’re
totally tuned in.
You’re feeling good and you’re making great reads, pulling off huge bluffs and
so on. But as the session progresses and the deck turns cold, you start to get
You start expanding your open-raising range, calling down your opponents
wider, or get involved in other marginal situations, but you just can’t win a
Or you clam up wanting to protect your winnings. You don’t have the nerve to
call down your opponents even though you think it might be profitable, or
can’t pull the trigger on a big bluff anymore.
Chances are you might be suffering from decision fatigue. The worst part about
it is its subtlety.
We often don’t even realize our decision-making process has been compromised
until it’s too late. So if you still want to multitable, taking a break here
and there is a must.
5. You Can’t Focus on Improving Your Poker Skills
This is something I’ve personally struggled with in the past. It took me a
while to realize that grinding an insane amount of tables isn’t conducive to
my development as a poker player.
If you’re beating your current limit, you want to put in as much volume as
possible to maximize your overall profit and get to the long run faster.
One of the biggest advantages of online poker is the ability to play an insane
number of hands in a short amount of time.
This helps you weather the variance and allows you to fully manifest your
skill edge over a large sample size.
The problem is, when you’re solely focused on grinding for an insane amount of
hours, it’s quite easy to go on autopilot and simply go through the motions,
without really thinking through your decisions.
For example, putting into practice all of those advanced poker strategies that you have studied. It only works if you use it!
This is especially true at the lower stakes, where most of the decisions you
make are straightforward and automatic. You don’t really have to strain
mentally to play a solid B game at least.
After a while, you get so used to it you can watch TV or hold a conversation
at the same time.
While multitasking is ill-advised when playing poker, it’s natural for your
mind to wander off if the task you’re performing isn’t challenging enough.
And that’s one of the problems with multitabling. It’s easy to get complacent
and just click buttons.
Multitabling can hinder your improvement as a poker player. After mastering
the fundamentals, it’s easy to assume you have it all figured out.
You keep adding tables, and make all the “standard plays” every time, but your
results seem to have reached a plateau.
That’s because the only way to real improvement is conscious, deliberate
practice, and you can’t practice effectively with 12 tables open. It’s just
not how learning works.
What you should do instead is open up just one or two tables while applying
single concept you’re learning about. It can be a broad or a specific topic.
It’s usually better to work from broad to specific.
These focus sessions can revolve around some part of the game you’re
struggling with or you want to improve upon, like light 3-betting, blind
defense, double barrelling, bluff catching, hand reading and so on.
There’s always something to work on, and you’re never really done learning.
This is something that Nathan discusses in
The Micro Stakes Playbook.
All of this is not to say that you shouldn’t multitable, period. It’s about
being aware of certain pitfalls and bad habits you might pick up, and how they
can slow down your improvement as a poker player.
If you feel any of these points apply to you, try reducing your table count
and see how it affects your decision making process.
Also, set some time for the focus sessions to keep expanding your skillset.
Save those heavy grinding days for the weekends, when you expect the games to
be the softest.
I Am Begging You to Stop Multi-Tabling Online Poker (It’s Killing Your
Multitabling is arguably the biggest advantage of online poker as opposed to a
brick-and-mortar casino. However, it can also negatively affect your results
in subtle ways.
When you play too many tables, it becomes harder to pay attention to table
selection. This is also one of the advantages of online poker and should be
taken advantage of.
The more tables you play, the less time you have for quality decision making,
so you are often forced to play on autopilot.
This becomes a problem once you start encountering tougher opposition. Details
become important once you start climbing up the stakes.
It’s also hard to pay attention to the metagame while multitabling. There are
no physical tells in online poker, so you need to rely on betting patterns and
If you pay close attention, you can even pick up when someone’s game goes off
the rails. This is a perfect opportunity to try and get involved and
capitalize on your opponent’s mistakes.
Frequent decision making can lead to deteriorating quality of decisions. This
is known as decision fatigue, and it can affect your game in subtle, but
Finally, multitabling heavily is not the best way to hone your poker
Learning about advanced concept requires focus and dedication, which is
virtually impossible if your attention is scattered around 12 different
Your poker game is your business, and you are the CEO. Your goal is to
maximize your profits.
There’s two ways to go about it. You can either play more hands, but you have
to be aware of the diminishing returns to the point where additional hands can
actually hurt your profitability.
The other way is to increase your winrate by expanding your knowledge and
honing your skills.
While this can hurt your profits in the short term, because you’re playing
less, in the long term it’s going to help your business stay healthy.
It’s the old question of quality versus quantity. It’s up to you to try and
find the balance between the two.
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